Bob Hall was a friend of my uncle’s who’d show up to large family gatherings to amuse and disgust the children. He had dentures which he’d pop out of his mouth and drop in a glass of water after eating. We’d all sit and watch the little floaties clump together as they rose. But, we put up with it for his stories.
His favorite story was about Cornelius and The Magic Word. It all began with The Council of Wizards, of which Cornelius was one.
“Cornelius was the very oldest and the very wisest. The council guided humanity into a beautiful age of peace and happiness. During this time, The Council of Wizards grew. They invited many less old and less wise men onto the council and taught them the magic word in spite of Cornelius’s warnings.
You see, he’d say, the word was the most powerful word in the universe. If you used this word you make anything happen no matter how impossible. Over time the new Wizards became more and more bold. They used the word to do all sorts of frivolous things and they became lazy. They would use it so they didn’t have to get up and do the dishes. Or they’d use it so they’d never have to go to the bathroom again!
Cornelius believed that those who knew the word were no longer worthy. So, he used to it and commanded that all but he shall forget the word. In an instant all The Council of Wizards lost their magic. No matter how hard they tried, they could not remember the word. And those men vowed to get revenge on Cornelius. But, he had disappeared. Poof!
The Council searched and searched for hundreds of years but never did find Cornelius. And it is said to this day that if anyone finds the word, on purpose or on accident, Cornelius will appear and erase it from their minds. But, as a reward, he will use the word to grant them a single wish.”
At the end he’d always ask us what we’d wish for and we’d say all sorts of outrageous things. And with each wish he’d say “You could have that!” And he’d have us try to say all sorts of crazy words like “Oggaliboogali-do-dabs” and “Hiluffinoatious” but none of them ever worked.
“What is the word!” We’d ask. And he’d say that he knew it once but Cornelius came and snatched it out of his head.
“What did you wish for?” My brother asked him. Bob Hall would roll his jaw around and narrow his eyes as though he were thinking really hard then cry “TEETH!” and spit his dentures out onto the carpet.
After telling this story, my brother and I would spend weeks saying all sorts of gibberish in an attempt to find the magic word.
It drove Mother nuts.